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New tools for Cricut Maker-Do you need them?

New tools for the Cricut Maker are available starting July16, 2019.  Let’s take a look at each new tool.  Do you need these new tools for your Cricut Maker? The Quick Swap Housing now works with tips for engraving, debossing, perforating, wavy cuts, and the original single and double scoring tips.  You will need to have at least one of the Quick Swap Housing units in order to use the new tips.

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)!  

New Cricut Maker Tools

New Cricut Maker Tools

How to Use these New Tools for the Cricut Maker

First you need the Quick Swap Housing. This came with your Cricut Maker rotary scoring tool.  If you don’t have the Quick Swap Housing for the Cricut Maker, you can purchase one with any of the new tool tips.  You likely only need one of the housing units, as all of the tool tips will fit on the same one. Here is the Engraving Tip with the Quick Swap Housing. Cricut has provided some simple instructions on how to attach and detach these new tool tips here.

Engraving Tip

Engraving Tip for Cricut Maker

Engraving Tip for Cricut Maker

The engraving tip is designed to create thin, etched lines in glass, metal, leather, acrylic blanks, etc. It is nice for creating score lines in heavier cardstock.  Use it to create custom text on items such as dog tags, trophies, award plaques, etc. If engraving clear glass or acrylic, you can use stamp pads to give engraved detail some color. An engraving tool is very handy to have for a cutter. Engraving requires the use of strong down pressure, especially when working with very hard surfaces.  The engraving tip is a great addition to the Cricut Maker’s tool lineup.  I especially like using engraving tools with moderate pressure on very heavy cardstock when making  popup cards.

If you do not have the the engraving tip, you could alternately use the rotary scoring tip, or a debossing tip with very high pressure. If you do not have a maker, you can try to use the regular Cricut scoring tool, but it is not very effective on cardstock or anything heavier than cardstock, due to the lack of adequate pressure. You Can  use a third party engraving tool in the pen tool slot.  Or, you could use your regular shallow blade, set to cut at low pressure or a setting for printer paper.  Another option would be to insert a hand engraving tool or an embossing tool with a tiny tip in a regular pen holder. You would need to use very high pressure for this to work. Always do test cuts with any tool on any medium before starting a new project.

An Engraved Project

I engraved on some acrylic, then used a stamp pad to add color to the engraving. Then I cut out the heart.  The new Cricut Maker Engraving tool can do the engraving, and the Knife blade can cut it out.

Engraved Acrylic Heart

Engraved Acrylic Heart

Engraving Fills

Unfortunately, Cricut Design Space does not offer tools for creating engraving fills to designs. But if you use other software to creating your designs, you can take advantage of Engraving Fill features to create lovely filled designs. Import these SVG files into Design Space to use with the new Engraving and Debossing tips available for the Cricut Maker. See this video for some ideas how to create engraving fills using Make The Cut.  Pazzles InVue software has an Engraving fill feature, as does Sure Cuts A Lot, and Silhouette Studio. See this post for more information about these software packages.

Fine Debossing Tip

Cricut Maker Fine Debossing Tip

Cricut Maker Fine Debossing Tip

Traditional line embossing places pressure from the back of the project to produce a raised, or embossed line on the opposite side of the card. With cutting machines, the ball tip of an embossing tool generally places pressure to the front side of a project, resulting in a debossed impression. Cricut has therefore named their ball tipped tool as a fine debossing tip, and rightly so.

This tool has a very small ball tip that will produce a fine debossed line. Because the Cricut Maker boasts of up to 4000 grams of pressure, it is possible to use this tool to effectively produce debossed lines in many types of media, including cardstock, leather, foils, foam, soft rubber, vellum, regular printer paper, etc.  You can also use this tool to create more defined score lines than you can get with the Cricut Scoring Stylus.  If you use an embossing mat along with this tool, you can get a nice, deeper debossed effect.

Other Options for Debossing

If you don’t have a Cricut Maker, you can still get a reasonable debossed effect. I was able to achieve a nice embossed effect on vellum for a recent project using my Crcut Explore. I posted photos, and instructions in that post, so be sure to check it out. You can also download the free cutting file from my Resource Library.

Embossed Vellum Popout Card

Embossed Vellum Popout Card

I was not successful doing this project on my Cricut Maker, so having the new debossing tip to use with it will be helpful.  Those who dislike switching tools while working on a project, may prefer to continue using the Cricut Scoring Stylus for some projects.

Cricut Perforation Tip

Cricut Perforation Tip

Cricut Perforation Tip

The Cricut Perforation Tip for the Cricut Maker may be used to cut perforated lines for a project. While this function may be produced in most cutter software, creating perforated lines in a project using Cricut Design Space is not an option.  However, if you have other software that creates SVG files, you can add perforations with that software and import your SVG cutting file into Cricut Design Space.  The advantage of using software-based perforations is that you can generally adjust the spacing and style of the perforations in software. The perforation tip provides only a single type of perforation. See this post to learn more about other software you can use.

Do you need the Cricut Perforation Tip?

So if you have and know how to use Inkscape, Illustrator, Sure Cuts A Lot, Make The Cut, or InVue for creating your SVG cutting files, you probably don’t need the Cricut maker Perforation Tip.  I probably would not use this tip for creating score lines, as perforations actually weaken the fold lines of a project. If you like creating “zippers” for surprise windows in your projects, this tool might come in handy.

Cricut Wavy Blade Tip

Cricut Wavy Blade Tip

Cricut Wavy Blade Tip

The concept of cutting wavy lines using a wavy blade tip is not novel. Wavy rotary blades for handheld cutters and rotary trimmers have been available for decades.  But no other electronic cutter boasts of having a Wavy Blade Tip. With the Cricut Maker, you can use this tip to create wavy edges for your borders, boxes, bags, etc.

If creating tiny waves for your projects is an important feature for you, you might want to purchase this tip.  The down side of this tool, is that it produces only a single style wavy line. If you were to produce wavy lines using convenient software features, you would have much more flexibility in the size and spacing of your wavy lines.  Sure Cuts A Lot 5 has a very nice Wave effect that allows you to change any line into a wavy line with spacing and amplitude of your choice.  Export your project from there as as Design Space compatible SVG, and import into Cricut Design Space.

Other Software Options

Pazzles Inspiration Studio (no longer available for purchase) has a series of “Scissor Cuts” that work in a similar manner. But in this case you have the option of using any of 14 different scissor styles to apply with the click of a mouse to any design line. Funtime Scrapbooking still offers this feature.

Here is a video tutorial on how to create waves using the free Inkscape.  If you own Make The Cut, you can download my Paper Edges Collection of over 250 different edge designs for free. You do need to join the free MTC_Tuts Yahoo group first in order to access files there.  Make The Cut has an object to path feature that allows you to wrap any of these shapes automatically to any shape.  Create your design in Make The Cut, select and export as SVG, and import the SVG into Cricut Design Space to cut to your Explore or Maker. No Wavy Blade Tip is necessary!

Which of these new tools for the Cricut Maker do you REALLY NEED?

New Cricut Maker Tools

New Cricut Maker Tools

If you have a Cricut Maker and don’t use third party software for creating your cutting files, you may need all of these. They will first be made available on HSN, July 16, 2019.  You will be able to purchase them directly from Cricut and elsewhere,  later. HSN does not necessarily offer items for less than retail prices. But they do offer exclusive bundles that may appeal to you.

If you have a Cricut Maker and do use third party software, you may want to select carefully from the new tools that are available.

If you don’t have a Cricut Maker, do not despair. Take advantage of some of the other alternatives for creating designs similar to what these tools can do.

Free Cutting Files

Would you like to see some of my FREE SVG projects? Check them out in my FREE Resource Library.

 

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If you already have your password, enter the resource library here.

 

 

Review of Gemini Die Cutter/Embosser

This review of the Gemini Die Cutter/Embosser covers tips  for cutting thin dies made by various companies. The Gemini is a must-have electronic machine for cutting very intricate dies in a single pass! You can get this amazing machine from Amazon for a great price. This is the full size version. There is also a Gemini Jr available for those who need a smaller, more portable size. But I prefer the larger size of the Gemini, as it can cut a lot of dies in a single pass, up to 9″ wide and 12.5″ long!

Gemini

Boxed Gemini

Some affiliate links may be used in this post. I am affiliated only with products that I use. When you purchase products using my affiliate links, it does not cost you any more, but I will share some commission.

Unboxing the Gemini

Right out of the box, this machine is ready to go. It needs  a space of 14″ wide, 8″ deep and 6.5″ tall for storage. When in use, it needs some room in front and in back of the machine for the cutting plates to move in and out. So plan on a stable working surface area of 14″ wide by 34″ deep. The machine itself weighs 14.6 pounds. You should be able to move it easily for storage unless that weight is too much for you. I like the hand grips on the sides of the machine that make it easy to lift.

In the box you will find the Gemini Die Cutter & Embosser, an assortment of plates, some metal dies, an embossing folder, User Guide, and power cord.

Gemini

Gemini Review and Tips

Gemini Plates

The Gemini ships with a nice assortment of plates. These plates all measure 9″ wide by 12.5″ long. The opening for the sandwiched plates measures just under 5/8″ (19/32″) high by 9″ wide. Included are two clear cutting plates. One of these goes on the bottom of the sandwich, and one goes on the top. Also included are a metal cutting plate, a magnetic shim, a plastic shim, and a rubber embossing mat. Suggestions for which plates and shims to use are included in the User Guide.

Gemini User Guide

The User Guide is a nicely illustrated, six page set of instructions. Instructions in French, Spanish, German, and Dutch are also included. Operating the Gemini is simple. Use a single power button on the back of the machine, and three buttons on top of the machine. The User Guide provides simple explanations of the functions of these buttons. Operation of the machine is automatic. As you insert the sandwich, the machine starts automatically, grabbing the sandwich,  pulling it through, and stopping when the cutting is complete.

In addition to the Operation instructions, there are sections covering several types of metal dies and embossing folders, including the following:

Cutting Thin Metal Dies
Cutting Very Intricate Dies
Deep Multi Media Dies
Embossing with Crafter’s Companion Dies
Embossing with 2D Folders
3D Embossing Folders
Cut & Emboss Folders

Pressure

The Gemini is a very powerful cutting machine which has much more pressure than its competitors. It was designed to exert enough pressure necessary for cutting very intricate dies that other die cutting machines do not handle well. Since not all thin dies are made with equal thickness, the pressure may need to be adjusted. The Gemini pressure can be increased or decreased using different combinations of plates and shims.

Buttons on the Machine

Gemini

Gemini Buttons

The button on the left is the power button. The center button is a Pause/Resume button. Use this button to stop the forward motion of the platforms. Press this button again to resume feeding the sandwich into the machine. The button on the right reverses the platforms out of the machine. The machine will automatically stop if the stack of platforms is too thick. After a few seconds, it will automatically back the stack out. If you have paused using the center button, you can use the reverse function to back the platforms out of the machine

Getting Started with Cutting Dies

The Gemini is shipped with a number of dies. The particular dies included may be different, depending on where the machine was purchased. HSN markets machines with a unique combination of dies, not available elsewhere. Machines purchased elsewhere will include a different variety of dies and embossing folders. It is good to do some practice cuts with the dies that came with your machine. Start with the sandwich suggestions in the User Guide for the type of dies you are using. Please note that dies with intricate detail require a different sandwich than those that are simple shapes.

Tip: Plan an uninterrupted time to become familiar with how the Gemini handles each of the different types of dies in your collection. Take notes! It will help to put a sticky note on your machine with a description of the sandwich that works for each of your most used die types.

Cutting Very Intricate Dies

There is a recommended Sandwich for use with very Intricate dies in the User Guide. Please be aware that as your clear cutting plate is used, it will warp. The sandwich may change if you are using a warped clear plate. The clear cutting plates must be positioned on top and bottom of the sandwich. The inner stack may differ, depending on what you are cutting. When using a die with very intricate inner detail, be sure to use the metal plate under the paper and  die, with the cutting edges of the die facing toward the metal plate. It helps hold the die in place if you include the magnetic shim under the metal plate.

Tips:

Although different from the suggested sandwich in the User Guide, it is also helpful to use the magnetic shim under the metal plate, smooth side towards the metal plate. The metal plate should snap to the magnetic plate, and the metal die(s) should be held in their positions on the metal plate.

Place your paper or other medium on top of the metal plate. Place the die, cutting side down toward the metal plate. Then place the cutting plate over that. On the bottom of the stack, you will need another clear cutting plate. This sandwich may or may not require the addition of the plastic shim. Try it without the plastic shim first. If the cut was not quite clean, add the plastic shim under the magnetic shim. If the addition of the plastic shim makes the sandwich too thick to pass through the machine, use a couple of sheets of 110# card stock folded in half, instead. You may also need to send an intricate die through the machine two or three times in order to cut through all of the tiny detail.

Cutting with Thin Metal Dies

Your machine came with some thin metal dies that do not include intricate detail. It is important that you do NOT use the metal plate with these open shaped dies. The use of the metal plate with these may cause them to warp.

Tips:

If you are using a thin metal die to cut around a stamped image, it is OK to flip the recommended sandwich so that the die blades are face down over the stamped image. This allows you to carefully line up the die over the edges of the stamped design. You may need to use some tape to hold the die in place. Under the stamped image, place the cutting plate. Add the plastic shim over the top of the die, and a cutting plate on top of the sandwich. If this is not thick enough, you can add the magnetic shim or 110# cardstock shims between the plastic shim and cutting plate. I do not like to place the magnetic shim directly on the die, as the die may put unwanted cuts or indentations in the magnetic shim.

Alternative for Cutting around Stamped Images

If you do not want to use tape to hold down your die, there is an alternative to try. From bottom to top, make a sandwich as follows:

Clear  plate on bottom,
3 or 4 pieces of 110# cardstock next,
followed by the Cuttlebug Magnetic Cutting Plate,
paper with a stamped image facing up
Die with cutting blade down,
Clear Cutting plate on top.

Magnetic Cutting Plates

The magnetic shim that ships with the Gemini is not suitable as a cutting surface. However, the Cuttlebug Magnetic Cutting Plates are thicker, and  designed to be cutting plates. These are not destroyed when a die is cut with its blade down on them. They are not stiff,  so they can be bent back into shape if the high pressure of the Gemini causes a bit of a curve. This alternative will work, and eliminate the need for taping down stamped paper or non-intricate dies. I do not recommend using this  alternative with very intricate dies.

Deep Multi Media Dies

The dies made by some companies come with deeper cutting edges than the traditional thin metal dies. The standard sandwiches may be too thick to fit through the Gemini with these dies. Do not use the metal plate if the die is not intricate. However, if the die is intricate, follow the sandwich suggestions for cutting very intricate dies. You will not likely be able to use the plastic shim, as it may make the sandwich too thick. I use about 4 layers of 110# cardstock in place of the plastic shim for these deeper multi media dies. The thickness of the media you are cutting will determine how many shims you need to use.

Tip: After sending your deep intricate dies through 2 or three times, and you still have some areas of a die that did not cut through, use a scrap of paper over that particular uncut area. Send it through the machine again.

Consumables

When using any die cutting machine, you will find that you will need to replace the cutting plates from time to time. The cutting plates warp. The dies leave a mark on the cutting plate with each pass, and the plates become very scarred with much use. Because the Gemini exerts much more pressure and force against its plates, warped plates will need to be replaced more frequently than plates on other machines. To reduce warping of all plates and shims, it is recommended that you rotate or flip  them after each use. This allows each of the four corners to be exposed to like amounts of pressure. Warped plates may still work for some cuts, but severely warped plates may not feed through the machine. Portions of intricate dies may not cut well if the plates are warped.

Purchase Extra sets of Cutting Plates

You are going to need extra cutting plates. This may happen sooner, rather than later. Purchase a number of cutting plates before you need them. You don’t want to be working on a special project, and get stuck because your cutting plates are too warped to be used. Some people have posted ways to remove some of the warping on plates. These techniques may work. But you will eventually need to replace your warped plates. Having extras on hand will save you frustration.

Tip: I try to keep three good sets of plates on hand at all times. When one gets damaged, I order a replacement while I still have a couple of good ones. Since working with my Gemini, I realized after only a couple of weeks of use, that I needed to order more. I ordered 4 extra cutting plates for both the Gemini and Gemini Jr. I know I will be needing them.

Optional Smaller Plates

Many people prefer to use the smaller plates and shims for the Gemini Jr. with their full size Gemini machine. There are some advantages for using these plates. First, the Jr. plates take only 8 seconds rather the 13 seconds to pass completely through the Gemini. Secondly, the smaller plates tend to warp less than the larger Gemini plates. Thirdly, these smaller plates serve as backups when your other plates need to be replaced. If using the Gemini Jr plates, you need to place them into the Gemini along the longer edge. The Gemini will not grab the shorter edge of these plates. If you do not need the larger cutting area of the Gemini plates, the Gemini Jr. plates are excellent options.

Tip: Using smaller plates means that you need less table surface space of only 26″ deep.

Alternative Shim Solutions

Keep in mind that you can use chipboard, paper, and card  stock as shims. If what you are using is not working, you can always use a substitute combination of plates and/or shims. Write down your special combination so that you won’t have to figure it out again. Also, if you are using alternative shims, you still need to use the clear cutting plates on the top and bottom of your sandwich.

Tip: I keep a sticky note on my machine where I write down my favorite sandwich stacks for my favorite die types.

Compatibility

The Gemini is the best die cutting machine I have tried for use with very intricate  thin metal dies. Getting excellent cutting results with this type of die in other machines requires more muscle strength than I have for cranking  the very tight stack through them. Since the Gemini is electronic, I don’t have to worry about cranking tight sandwiches. Gemini also boasts more cutting pressure to handle those dies more efficiently. Therefore, I reserve intricate thin metal dies for use with my Gemini.

No Steel Rule Dies

You cannot use steel rule dies with the Gemini. The opening is not high enough for dies such as theregular  Sizzix, Accucut, Big Shot,  or Go dies to fit. The Gemini opening measures only 14 mm. The opening is also not high enough for use with the flower shaping molds by Heartfelt Creations. Also, any die that is wider than 9 inches will not fit in the Gemini. You will need to use your other machines for these dies and flower shaping molds.

Third Party Cutting Plates

Tip: I do not recommend using most cutting plates for your other die cutting machines with the Gemini. I may try testing some if the need arises, and report on the results. They were not made for the extra cutting pressure exerted by the Gemini, so they might warp. This would make them unusable in your other machines. I reserve my other cutting plates for my other machines, so that they will work when I need them for projects that I cannot do with my Gemini. The one exception right now, is the Cuttlebug Magnetic cutting plates. I will use those with non-intricate dies to eliminate the need for taping dies or paper for precision cuts.

Intricate Dies from other Companies

Intricate dies that I have used successfully from other companies with the Gemini are:

Tattered Lace,
Anna Griffin,
Heartfelt Creations,
Cuttlebug,
Ellentina,
Spellbinders,
Crafters Companion
Die’Sire
Tim Holtz Sizzix thin metal dies

Additional Supplies

You will need the Spellbinders Tool in One or a similar brush with your intricate dies. The roller brush tip helps remove the cut materials from the dies. Place the cut pieces with the die on a foam pad, and brush the back side of the die. Use the pointed tip of this tool to poke through the holes on the back side of the die to release the cut pieces from the die. You can purchase additional accessories for this tool such as the embossing tips and brayer tip, if you do not already have those tools.

The other very necessary tool when cutting intricate dies is a trash can. You can avoid a lot of vacuuming by removing your intricate dies from the cut projects over a trash can.

Tip: Tap the die gently against the edge of your desk or table to loosen tiny pieces trapped in the die. Do this over the trash can!

Pros

Gemini cuts with greater pressure than any other die cutting machine.

Fewer passes are needed with this machine, as compared with thin dies used on other machines.

The machine is simple to use, as it is motor driven. This is great for those with limited mobility in hands, arms, or shoulders.

The maximum die width for use in the Gemini is 9″.

The 12.5″ cutter plate length allows you to cut many dies at the same time.

Gemini can use thin metal dies and embossing folders from many different companies.

You can use dies to cut around your stamped images by reversing the recommended plate order.

The Gemini automatically rejects a stack of plates that is too thick to cut.

Cons

Cutting plates do not last long. So purchase extras! If you place dies, blade side towards the metal cutting plate, you will need extras of those as well.

Gemini is NOT compatible with plastic or wooden steel rule dies. They are too thick to pass through this machine.

Gemini cannot be used with Flower shaping molds. The molds are too thick to feed into the machine.

Be careful with the way you stack the plates and shims, as it is easy to ruin them. Cutting blades with material to be cut, must have a clear or metal cutting plate next in the stack!

 

Love,
Julie, cuttercrafter.com

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This resource library is open to everyone for free. All you need is the password to get in, which you can get by filling out the form below. If you already have your password, enter the resource library here. Forgot your password? I put the password at the bottom of nearly all of my emails. But if you can’t find one of my emails to you, you can either fill out the form above again or email me at hello@cuttercrafter.com Password Tip: I recommend you copy and paste the password in to avoid any accidental mistakes. If you ever forget your password, please email hello@cuttercrafter.com Not working? If you enter the password and the same page refreshes, without any contents, that means you put in the wrong password. Double-check your email, copy the password, and paste it in to the link above. Still not working? I promise the password works—I haven’t changed it since I opened the library.   Try the copy/paste method again and make sure the URL you are going to has https at the start of it (that’s a secure page and it makes a difference). If that still isn’t working, try a different web browser.